Wednesday, May 30, 2007

An Artist Remembered Victor Wiley, 1969-2007

Victor Wiley was one of the first artists I met when I arrived in Little Rock, he sparkled.

When we met, Victor and I were performing at the same benefit for a local womens organization. I was doing some spoken word from Vagina Monologues to plug our upcoming show. For once I arrived early so I asked him if I could help set up. He smiled and said sure, give me a hand with this.

He had created custom artwork on a sheet for the backdrop. We managed to get it up under the outdoor space we were to perform under. It was a cold winter evening with some on and off again drizzle and someone had set up a fire pit but it was just far enough away that we could see the heat but not feel it. We didn't mind we were artist about to enjoy the process and invite others to play.

He got his recording set up which was a unique blend of singing and music. A small crowd gathered under the cover and another crowd near the fire. Once he began he turned on a projector that cast an image on the backdrop. Then he positioned himself so that visually he was layered betweent the image projected and the image behind him.

As the music started he began to paint on himself and added paint to the background to emphasize the sounds and meanings of words and rhythms. He painted on his face, his clothes, the background, and his arms. He moved in front of the canvas so that the images all seemed to dance with him.

The crowd was mesmerized. We we all so drawn in, that at the end of the performance you felt as if you were part of the creation. We had all just shared an intimate experience.

We crossed paths several times after that night, they say that in Arkansas those with progressive and or liberal thoughts are part of a small network and you can't help but build solidarity and thats what we did.

We collaborated on posters for a peace rally, a parade for LGBT rights and he shared his thoughts and ideas as a member of the board for an arts and activism organization I co founded. He pushed the limits about art, music, and thinking of others.

The last time I remember talking with Victor was at one of his gallery shows. He greeted me with the usual smile and warm hug and then began telling me all about his latest ideas and creations.

We will carry on the work and make fierce art while we do it!
Victor you will be missed.

Localist Magazine, Little Rock 2007
Victor Wiley was a post-modern renaissance man, drawing his inspiration from Egyptology, as well as entomology, from the Greeks as well as the freaks. He lived by the real code of do-it-yourself ethics, always ate a vegan diet, and rode his clankity bike rather than own a car. He spent everyday of his life creating, giving, and inspiring everyone he met. He was a true romantic that delivered his art with a chaotic style that assaulted us with the beauty of creation, only to have us surrender to its destruction.He spent over 15 years feeding the homeless every Sunday with Food Not Bombs a program he was instrumental in beginning here, he played in over 20 different bands and musical projects, he was the co-founder of Das Yutes A-GO-GO, and hosted hundreds of shows at his house on Park Street. A great lyricist, he wrote songs for most of his bands. He also wrote zines, comics, and jokes. Every Tuesday night for several years, he hung wall size pieces of art behind the bands at the Whitewater Tavern. At the end of the night he would take it all down only to return next week with new stuff.He is probably one of the greatest rock-n-roll front men the South has ever seen, like the love child of Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Victor’s performances were balls out and in your face, yet stylistic and artsy, cocky and sensitive. He had a great sense of humor, loved animals, lollipops, and every year he dressed as a bug for Halloween. He gave his entire life to his art and his community and never concerned himself with monetary reward.In his last act of giving, Victor donated his organs and his kidney was a perfect match for a stranger in need.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:50 PM

    victor wiley was a friend of mine.

    thor was a good totem animal for those days.

    i wish i still had the painting vic gave me.

    gabe snz